If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE the beach. I love everything about the shoreline, and I’m fortunate enough to live near one of the best ones on the planet.
There is something holy and restorative spending time there. It’s a cumulative experience of the senses. Before I’ve barely left the car, the smell of the salt air hits me. Then as I walk to the path, past the native sea grapes and sea oats, I always stop for a moment when I hit the edge of the sand. It’s a respectful pause, a big breath in as I look left to right. It is a sight that is never taken for granted by this Iowa-born girl. As I scope out the best location for my personal sabbatical, I notice the waves gently landing on the shoreline. Sometimes I’ll hear the seagulls squawking it out and children laughing (or crying because they don’t realize how happy they should be in this place).
Once I camp myself in a suitable spot, and my toes happily dig into the white quartz sand (the sand texture is a critical factor in my spot selection), I’m home. It’s in this place, with all of these sensations, that I feel God’s presence more than any other place.
Please hear me, I know God is really everywhere all the time (so don’t get all jealous because you can’t be at my beach – I hope you have a special place where you can sit in the presence of your Creator). I’m kind of surprised Jesus didn’t come straight here when he walked on this earth. A few weeks ago I did get to see one of his favorite shorelines, along the Sea of Galilee.
This is not a white sandy beach, but I had the exact same sensations (minus the toes/texture/sand thing). I smelled the smell of the water and sand and shells, and could hear birds making all their little bird noises. I felt the crunch of the shells and rocks underfoot, and I sensed the presence of God right in that very place. The shore where Jesus hung out with his buddies, the shore where he took a shortcut one night and freaked them all out by walking across instead of around.
I closed my eyes and it was like being transported in time. It was calm and peaceful, just the way I like it. Funny, I enjoy life when it’s that very same way, calm and peaceful. If only it were like that all the time.
But it is not.
This past week has been one of the hardest I can recall in recent years. It didn’t look calm and peaceful AT ALL. My emotions and thoughts resembled a hurricane more than a peaceful beach scene. From all sides, in more conversations than I could count, my beliefs and heart were questioned and even somewhat attacked. People all around are in turmoil and confusion, It’s hard to defend and explain what I am still absorbing and sorting through myself.
So I return to what I know. God is still God, and he is well able to take care of everyone’s stuff. I don’t have to solve anything for anyone. We can agree to disagree, we can display humility, grace and respect, and still love each other. As soon as my emotions settled a bit and I remembered these things, the waves calmed immediately.
And this week when I’m on staycation (the term we locals have for hitting the beach instead of going to work because we can), I plan to spend lots of time sitting in his presence. I know he will be right there waiting for me, saying “Hey girl, it’s so good to have you here. Thanks for coming to chill with me.”
Thanks for reading, until next time,